Top Three Articles of the Recent Past

#1 (Bad Health Care Math)

Several famous persons are credited with the quote: "There are three types of lies. Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics." But the problem lies (sorry) not with statistics but with the ignorant or prejudicial use of those numbers. This example comes from the business pages of the Atlantic, usually the home of reasoned and rational discourse. The chief point of the article is that only 5% of the population make up nearly 50% of annual medical costs. 

These 'big spenders' tend to be over 65 years of age and predominantly white, which in itself is shocking in a country that is predominantly white. But when you look at the meager details offered in the article and parse the language properly, here is what they seem to be concluding - The majority of the health care costs in the United States can be directly attributed to expenses associated with the delivery of services to the people who need medical care.

No really, a big Duh! from the Atlantic. Sick people are getting the most medical care in this country. Who would have thunk it?

I am shocked, shocked I say to hear that healing is going on in this hospital.

#2 (Left, Right, Left)

Here's an interesting idea - ask liberals what conservatives get right and ask conservatives what liberals get correct. Here are two articles that tell you a lot more about those responding to the questions than it does about what they believe the "other side" is up to. Conservatives look at Liberals and The Left comments on the Right. What I find most interesting is that everyone I have sent these articles to find themselves a bit chilled by the words of the analysts they usually agree with. Disagreeing with "the other side" is one thing but listening to the emotionless, dispassionate words of "your guys" can be downright frightening.

By the way, if you are of a liberal lean then I strongly suggest you read some or all of the linked articles in the piece where conservatives talk about liberals. These will really give you some solid insight into the conservative mind and will force you to sharpen your critique of those positions or they might convince you that you really aren't right, I mean correct all of the time.

#3 (Magnes Museum)

Ever had that feeling when you read something in the newspaper and you know more than the reporter is telling. It happens to everyone, mass media smoothes out the story and truncates the facts. I had a big dose of this when reading the NYTimes article about the reopening of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley.

"The Magnes was created in 1962 by Seymour Fromer, a Jewish educator, and Rebecca Camhi Fromer, his wife. Its artifacts were deliberately wide-ranging, including not just Jewish ritual objects but manuscripts, music and ephemera." 

You see Rebecca and Seymour were the parents of one of my very best friends. I not only helped her empty out her father's apartment after his passing but I now live in that very space. When I first saw the apartment it was full of ephemera. Books, objects of art of all kinds plus paperwork, notes and documents the archivist at the Magnes was drooling over. We sorted, shredded, cleaned and cataloged for several months. The bookseller came in and we packed nearly 5,000 tomes for distribution to their appropriate new homes. We called this work "treasure hunting" because mixed in with decades old Visa statements and phone bills we would find a handwritten letter from the director of a museum in Jerusalem with notes on a piece Seymour had brought back from his recent visit.

The archivist eventually took thirty boxes of papers back to the Magnes, which just this week has reopened in a newly remodeled space a few blocks from this now remodeled apartment that once housed the overflow of ephemera and life that has become the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life.